Volume 46 Number 26
                    Produced: Wed Dec 22 22:06:58 EST 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Cost of Simchas (2)
         [Dov Teichman, Carl Singer]
Expecting Perfection
         [Carl Singer]
Hanuka Gelt's Origin?
         [Janice Gelb]
Kashrus of Torahs
         [Chaim Tabasky]
Kashruth of Sefer Torah
         [Carl Singer]
Length vs. pace of davening
         [Carl Singer]
Meaningful Wedding
         [Nathan Lamm]
Shabbat davening times
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Teaching Positions
         [Ed Norin]
Wedding Rules - FLOPS


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 08:06:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Cost of Simchas

I once saw a vort by one of the Lubavitcher Rebbes, that wealthy people
should be allowed to spend their own money freely on weddings,
vacations, luxuries, etc. Because, in proportion that they spend on
themselves, they will be generous when giving tsedaka as well. If a
person is forced to tone down what he is spending on his own affairs,
then he will tone down what he will disburse in tsedaka as well. People
make lavish weddings, yet at the same time sent large sums of money to
make weddings for poor in Israel or elsewhere (An Urime Chassineh). I
don't see anything wrong with that.

Dov Teichman

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 08:24:34 -0500
Subject: Cost of Simchas

One aspect that hasn't been discussed is what is the community's
responsibility re: tzedakah related to Simchas Chusen & Kallah.  If you
plan an elaborate wedding do I need to subsidize you via tzedukah.  --
This question is as opposed to helping a poor person, widow or orphan,

Carl Singer


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2004 17:51:40 -0500
Subject: Expecting Perfection

I think there's an associated issue that is also very important --
honesty / accuracy in reporting / scholarship.  For whatever reason
today's publishers seem to feel the need to hide what to them (and
clearly not to the tzadikim they are writing about) were "flaws."

When we see this (to me unnecessary) whitewashing of a tzadik it brings
the author and the entire biography into question.  The most inane
example I recall is yarmulkes painted onto photographs of Rabbanim who
didn't wear them while attending secular universities.  A few years ago
one of my sons had a classmate in yeshiva who was embarrassed by
photographs of his mother with her hair uncovered.  It didn't seem to
matter that the photographs were taken when she was an unmarried

Carl Singer


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2004 15:29:46 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Hanuka Gelt's Origin?

c.halevi <c.halevi@...> wrote:
>             I recently mentioned to some colleagues that the origins of
> giving kids Hanuka gelt (specifically coins) were rooted in Antiochus,
> forcing Jews to use coins with a graven image on it, i.e., his own, as
> the supposed "god-king" and that giving presents of coins harks back to
> our regaining the power to mint coins that were acceptable to Jews.
>             However, except for a brief reference to coinage in the
> non-canonized Book of Maccabees, I haven't found a source that backs up
> my contention.

Thanks for this excuse to do some esoteric web hunting :->

I'm afraid that if there ever was a definitive reason for giving
Chanukah gelt, it is lost. Several reasons are given on many sites, the
most popular of which are to keep the kids interested, and to remind us
of beggars having to go door-to-door to get enough money to buy candles
for this required mitzvah. I did find one web site that gathered the
many reasons given into one place:


The closest to your reason is stated as follows: "Twenty- two years
after the Maccabees won the battle, their descendants, who became a
royal family, minted coins to celebrate the county^s autonomy.  Temple
images such as the menorah and showbread were embossed onto the coins as
reminders of the national glory that had been restored.  Giving out gelt
recalls this high point of Jewish freedom."

-- Janice


From: Chaim Tabasky <tabaskc@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 16:12:46 +0200
Subject: Kashrus of Torahs

> >Do the standards change with the improvement of the checking technology?
> >>They shouldn't, just like one does not need to worry about microscopic
> >>bugs in food.  Sifray Torah were never meant to be checked by
> >>computers that are so exacting and have no "judgement".
> >>Ben Z. Katz, M.D.

1. I believe that it is apparent to those who deal with checking seforim
(I am one) that there are many more mistakes made by the sofer that must
be corrected than in previousl generations. A normal computer check
regularly finds over 100, sometimes over 200 spelling mistakes. It could
be that the sofrim are less careful, knowing the computer will catch the
errors. I don't mean all sofrim, I have seen seforim with fewer than ten
mistakes, but it is rare. Over twenty years ago, there were examiners
who could proofread a sefer Torah without having to consult a master
text, who would regularly find all or almost all mistakes. I think the
computer programs have put them out of business.

It is possible that in previous generation, copyists were more careful
than in the past hundred years, or even since the introduction of the
printing press. Marshall MacLuhan argues that in pre print societies,
people had better hearing and memory skills than on post print society
where most information is transmitted through the written text. I have a
feeling that the computers arrived just in time, that is, the changes in
society make a computerized spell check necessary to meet norms that
were previously acheived without it.

2. If a sefer was checked and read from, then a mistake was found, those
who read from the Torah surely fullfilled the mitzvah. The sefer had a
presumption of kashrut (chazaka) as others have pointed out. I assume
that it might have been a common occurence for mistakes were found in
seforim by conscientious readers or examiners many years after the sefer
was written, well before the computer revolution

3. The comparison to submicroscopic bugs doesn't do it. If a bug could
not be seen by anyone at the time of Moshe Rabbeinu, it is not
halachically defined as a bug, as opposed to one which could be seen by
holding lettuce up to the sun, because its color is similar to the
lettuce. Today we have lamps that artificially allow us to see bugs we
otherwise would have missed.  I never heard that it was silly to use
them because MR didn't have electricity (he did have sunlight). I submit
that Moshe Rabbeinu was an excellent copyist and examiner, and if we
have trouble meeting his standards without the computer, we can thank
HaShem that the electronic alternative exists.

Chaim Tabasky


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 08:07:42 -0500
Subject: Kashruth of Sefer Torah

I think what we're talking about is those possible defects that are a
"judgment call" -- not a missing letter, but a question of whether two
letters are touching each other, whether a letter is broken, or whether
it's a "Raish" or a "Daled" -- at issue is the STANDARD by which we make
that judgment.

The halachic standard for making the judgment has long been established
-- as with any measurement system (hamavdil) the issue is what is the
required level of precision and what process and standards are used for
measurement.  For the Sefer Torah the halachic means for measurement
have been defined -- roughly speaking the level of precision is based on
the judgment of a young, untrained, unbiased reader.  Similarly, for
bugs it's the "naked eye" in a well lit environment (vice an electron

Whether the computer (as programmed) found an anomaly of letter shape
(or the microscope found a bug) is an interesting point of information
-- but at issue is not the result of this measurement or discovery.
What matters is the HALACHIK status of that which is being examined --
and this is determined by a specific (albeit not the most consistent nor
the most exacting) standard.

Carl Singer


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 08:31:43 -0500
Subject: Length vs. pace of davening

For whatever reasons -- ranging from two or three minutes of confusion
between aliyot, five minutes plus of announcements by a would-be
comedian, a guest speaker, when davening really started, or whatever --
the length of davening (start to finish); the time davening ends (vice
lunch time) and the pace of davening are different factors that impact
how we perceive our "davening experience."  I've been to minyanim where
I felt I was chasing a fast train, only to find they took longer than
those where the pace was slower but consistent.

Carl Singer


From: <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 11:00:26 EST
Subject: Re: Meaningful Wedding

      The emphasis should be on giving expression to the real joy for
      and significance to the couple, the families and the friends (in
      that order). If that is expressed also in some modified external
      fashion, fine. But going the other way by adopting new or "bigger"
      trappings and thus hoping to engender a "special" occasion is
      putting the (dessert) cart before the (bridal carriage) horse.

Here is how I did this: My mesader kedushin, at the tish, had me explain
why we were signing a prenup. At the badekin, he explained to the chasan
and kallah what a badekin is, and why it is done.  Not just because of
the Rachel Leah mix up, but about the holiness of it. He got up at the
chuppah and explained to the chosen and kallah who their ancestors are,
what a chuppah is, why you walk around the chosen seven times...he
talked to the grandmothers from under the chuppah, blessing them for
surviving the Holocaust and told the oylam about our family. My daughter
and her husband's friends and relatives, and one friend of mine, and a
special friend

We didn't do it at night, and we made sure that whoever wanted to bring
their little kids and babies did so. We had a tish, where we served
breakfast, we had the badekin inside, with all the explanations. We had
the chuppah outside, where the petunias I had grown myself from baby
flats and the chuppah I built with the help of my husband made a
wonderful impression, so that my daughter didn't feel like she was being
deprived. I did the centerpieces with flowers from Costco and vases from
The Rag Shop. I made the bride's bouquet and took every dried and silk
flower arrangement from my house, and my patio pots from the back porch
to make this look good. Why should my daughter look like she is a
pauper, why should I shame my family?


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 05:41:01 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Nittel

Ira Jacobson writes: "Actually, the Russian Orthodox
church celebrates Xmas on January 7..."

After 1900. The Julian calendar advances one day per century with the
exception of those years in which the Gregorian, too, has a leap year
(like 2000).  Similarly, V'Ten Tal UMatar, which, to simplify, follows
the Julian calendar, jumps a day every hundred years- it was December
3rd from 1800-1899; now it's December 4th.

Therefore, in the 19th Century, Orthodox Christmas was January 6th. The
practice of Nittel on that night must have been established in that
century, before many Jews left for the West.


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 13:27:52 +0200
Subject: Shabbat davening times

Most of the many Shabbat Minyanim I've been to in Israel (mainly the 1st
morning Minyan, incorrectly referred to as "Hashkamah") take up to 20
minutes to Shochein Ad, very, very rarely exceeding that time. They
generally start from "R' Yishmael Omeir." The minyanim generally finish
in between 1.5 to 2 hours, and they are NOT rushed. They just cut out
the extraneous time-wasters. One time waster that they do not have is
time wasted telling people to keep quiet, as no one speaks during
Chazarat Hashatz or the Kriyah. Also, the first Minyan very rarely has a
derashah, and almost never has a Simcha (although even when there is a
Simcha that adds a few minutes at most.) Oh yes - NO hosafot, except for
a very rare "Acharon," and no longer Misheberachs for everyone in the
immediate universe. In other words, the davening time is "net."

Shmuel Himelstein


From: <EngineerEd@...> (Ed Norin)
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 20:32:47 EST
Subject: Teaching Positions

My children are looking to move to Israel.  They are both looking for
teaching positions.  Does anybody know of any web postings for Israeli
teaching positions?  Are there any other non-web lists that can be
accessed by a phone call?  I would appreciate any help either on or off

Ed Norin


From: Anonymous
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 08:51:26
Subject: Wedding Rules - FLOPS

I speak from a biased position as my wife and I have been blessed (?)
only with sons.  I believe that FLOPS and other such "rules" were an
attempt to balance out what was traditionally a father-of-the-bride pays
for everything.

Nonetheless good communications is vital to a marriage and that likely
applies to the parents as well.

One of our sons married a young lady whose family was unable to afford
an even less-than-elaborate wedding -- we ended up contributing well
beyond FLOPS and where happy to do so because we had reached a cordial
agreement with "the other side."

One thing that helped was to divide the guest list into three parts --
balancing number of guests in Groom's Family and Bride's Family, and
then strongly urging a downsizing of the Bride & Groom's friends


End of Volume 46 Issue 26